Hawai'i State News

Breeani Kobayashi announces candidacy for Big Island mayor

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Breeani Kobayashi. Photo Courtesy: Friends of Bree

Hilo native Breeani Kobayashi has announced her candidacy for Hawaiʻi County mayor, joining Kimo Alameda and current mayor Mitch Roth in the 2024 race for leadership of the Big Island.

“Kobayashi promises transformative initiatives to uplift and empower communities across the County,” a recent statement from her supporters, Friends of Bree, said.

Named as one of Hawaiʻi’s Most Admired Leaders in 2023 and selected by Pacific Business News as the 2022 Pineapple Honoree, which recognizes the best of the best in Hawai’i tourism and authentic hospitality, Kobayashi is also a recipient of the Lokahi Award, nominated in 2018 by the Youth Challenge Academy National Guard and given to an individual who exemplifies leadership through their mentorship of disadvantaged youth. In 2009, Kobayashi was one of two individuals chosen by Senator Daniel Akaka to represent Hawaiʻi in Washington DC to discuss education, leadership and public service.  


“I have a profound love for our island and our people,” said Kobayashi. “I am committed to serving our community and am grateful for the guidance of my mentors and the leaders who have shown me the importance of leading with purpose, passion and aloha.” 

Granddaughter to the late Hilo businessman Richard Kimi, Kobayashi was the general manager of the Hilo Seaside Hotel until the acquisition and sale of the hotel in 2021 to SCP Hotels (Soul Community Planet).  Now known as SCP Hilo and still under Kobayashi’s management, SCP Hilo is the only hotel in Hawai’i to earn “Benchmarked” recognition from EarthCheck, highlighting commitment to regenerative travel experiences.  

SCP Hilo’s partnership with Hawaiʻi Wildlife Fund to remove beach trash has resulted in over 100,000 pounds of trash that has been removed from Big Island beaches through Kobayashi’s management thus far.  SCP Hilo also partners with “We Well-being” to provide adolescents with mental health skills and ʻĀina Hoʻōla Initiative, which encourages guests staying at SCP Hilo to donate their time back to the community and help restore Lokowaka Pond in Keaukaha.


Kobayashi and her mother, Kim Kimi, opened the Keaukaha General Store in 2012. In addition to managing everyday operations, Kobayashi has since leveraged the store’s physical and sentimental connection with the community to assist with emergency relief efforts. During the 2014 Hurricane Iselle Emergency, Kobayashi orchestrated the provision of 400 meals daily, collaborating with local restaurants and volunteers to effectively address food insecurity amidst the crisis and disaster recovery efforts. She also established donation drop-off centers, free delivery of over 2,000 fresh produce boxes in partnership with local farmers and distribution of over 10,000 masks island-wide during the COVID-19 pandemic. 

A shoplifting incident at the Keaukaha General Store inspired Kobayashi to do more for the community, according to Friends of Bree.

“Instead of calling the police on a young boy caught stealing, she took the time to understand his circumstances. When he admitted not knowing how to find a job or write a resume, Kobayashi realized the need for accessible educational resources,” the group said. “She then launched a series of free professional development classes through Hawai’i Rise Foundation, tailoring the curriculum to address the specific needs voiced by local youth and equip them with essential life skills for success.”


As President of Hawaiʻi Rise Foundation, Kobayashi’s initiatives have provided mental health services, rental payments, utility assistance, CPR/First Aid certifications and weekend food access for children in affordable housing complexes.

Kobayashi’s platform includes initiatives to ensure a more equitable distribution of resources to support local families grappling with Hawaiʻi’s high cost of living.

Kobayashi is also the current chair for Hawaiʻi Island United Way, vice president for Hui Kahu Malama (a nonprofit organization addressing the County’s physician healthcare shortage), and a Big Island Substance Abuse Council Board member.

“My background in business has taught me about strategic thinking, smart decision-making and bringing people together to achieve success. I am confident that if we work together, we will unite our island and propel our community toward an exciting future of positive change,” Kobayashi said. “I am eager to bring all voices to the table and tap into our collective strengths. I envision a community where there are opportunities for everyone.”

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